While slightly off topic for this blog, I wanted to address an issue that sometimes causes concern and insecurity for young men. Since many of my readers are young men seeking guidance and reassurance on what to wear or not to wear in various situations, I expect a number of them will find this topic relevant. What should one wear when sleeping over at a friend's house? What about when having a friend sleep over at your house? Different households have different rules and habits and feeling these things out can occasionally be a bit awkward. You don't want to feel inappropriately dressed or make anyone else feel awkward.
How to treat these situations depends on the specific circumstances. If there is an extra room you will have to yourself, dress however you like for bed as it should be assumed you will be afforded some degree of privacy by this arrangement. If you will be sharing a room with a friend, you may be tempted to automatically dress more modestly than you ordinarily would, but that may actually make your friend more uncomfortable if they normally wear less. If you dress in pajamas, but your friend (host or guest) normally sleeps in boxers and has no pajamas, it may make him feel quite awkward.
Don't assume that just because your friend wears pajamas, or a t-shirt with his boxers, that your wearing boxers or foregoing a shirt will make him uncomfortable. Some people just have different preferences, it doesn't mean that we will find someone else's choice inappropriate. He may even decide he prefers what you wear, once presented with the option. When in doubt, ask. If your friend dons pajamas for bed, tell him what you normally wear and ask if it would make him or his family uncomfortable.
As a guest, you should mostly follow your host's lead on what to wear to the breakfast table, sitting up to watch a movie, or out in the yard. Some families that find it perfectly acceptable to go shirtless to bed or in the yard, have rules about proper dress for the table, etc. If you are the host, don't be afraid to go shirtless anytime you normally would, it's your house and your guest is more likely to feel set at ease than to be disturbed in any way.
Most of us feel more comfortable knowing what is "normal". For the record, most guys sleep in their underwear, usually boxers or boxer briefs, sometimes with a t-shirt. Very few guys sleep in their street clothes. If both of you are going to bed in street clothes, it is much more likely that both of you prefer to sleep in boxers, etc, and are simply too awkward or embarrassed to undress in front of the other without some indication they will not find it odd. Usually, if you take the lead, your friend will follow. If you aren't comfortable taking the lead, say something. Mention what you normally wear, or that sleeping in clothes is uncomfortable.
It is less common for guys to sleep naked (although certainly not abnormal, it's actually more common than street clothes), and it is more common for guys who would sleep naked at home alone to put on clothes when others are around. If you normally sleep naked, I would suggest at least wearing boxers or something to bed. That said, if you sleep over with a friend and both of you sleep naked and it doesn't bother either of you, that's no big deal, there's nothing wrong with it.
Finally, a note for parents when your kids have a friend sleeping over: There is no reason to expect them to dress more modestly than they would at home. It's perfectly normal for boys to sleep in their boxers or underwear. Unless your guest's parents have indicated otherwise, there should be no reason to enforce a stricter dress code than you normally have in your home. Even if the boys sleep naked, there is no cause for concern, it's no different than what they commonly encounter in a locker room.
Hopefully this will make a lot of people more comfortable and set some minds at ease. Feel free to share your opinions and experiences in the comments.
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